Questions to ask breeders


New member
After the hot topic of internet breeders/sellers, I thought this might be a great place to educate some of our members (like myself)that are not yet owned by a Newf. I have made contact with a breeder via e-mail last week and on Wednesday I will be making my first phone contact (I'm so excited) :D :D . I have met with a few other breeders, but think this is the one. I need help in remembering all of the important questions to ask, both to screen her and her breeding practices, and to make a great first impression. All help will be appriciated.




Super Moderator
I'd say - in no particular order here -
How often is the bitch bred
What testing is done on the bitch prior to mating eg test for brucilosis (?sp)
health clearances on dam and sire, minimum hips, elbows, cardiac. Also whether they do CERF or thyroid
Proof of health clearances
Why do they breed
Do they do Newf type activities eg, water, carting obed.
Do they show?
Do the dam and sire meet the U.S. standard
Are they members of a Newf Club, regional or NCA
I'm sure other people will add to this list
Good luck in your quest!


New member
This is not so much a question to ask but something you need to do and not do.
First of all, follow your gut instinct. If for some reason you are not comfortible with the breeder, leave. You are under no obligation to purchase a dog from these people

Second, dont fall in love with the cute ball of fur before you have listened to your gut instict.
A good breeder is everything because you know you are getting a puppy from a well thought out litter not a puppy from someone wanting to turn a buck Where temperment, health, and physical well being are not taken into consideration


New member
I really connected with my breeder and she with me. She asked us a lot of questions about what we wanted from our dog. She also asked about our house and yard. It didn't make me feel like she was looking for a reason NOT to give us a puppy but that she wanted the best home possible for her puppy. I think I would be worried if a breeder didn't ask questions like that.

I asked how often she bred (how many litters per year and how often for each dog). I asked her for the health certificates for both dogs. Ask about vaccinations (I didn't want the puppy to be vaccinated with a combo) and make sure the breeder is willing to follow your wishes. Ask about worming, what do they use and what do they recommend because almost all puppies are born with worms (I asked her to use DE instead of a chemical wormer).

I would have loved to connect with a raw feeder but didn't find one that I felt comfortable with. She has since started adding raw food to their diet. Besides, I figured he'd only be eating "puppy" food for a couple of weeks. Not too much to undo.

I also sent her two soft puppy toys that she put in the whelping box so Stoli could have the scent of his old home once he got to his new home.

I'm sure there's more but I don't remember. Hope this helps someone.


New member
We visited at least 4 breeders before we settled on one.

I think it is also important to ask about the contract, what is included and not. If there is a problem with the pup, what happens ?

Good luck with your search....


New member
My suggestion: subscribe to Newf Tide, the publication of NCA; attend as many show with newfs as possible; talk to as many owners as possible by attending regional newf club events; read, read, read... get you hands on as many of the newf breed books as possible and read; talk to anyone in the newf world you can, as you are aware, there are many opinions out there. Through education you can form your own....



New member
Visit the breeder and see the parents of your pup, before you make a commitment. Ask about how the pups are socialized...those early weeks before they get to go home with you are very important. You want to know that the pups aren't just secluded in a kennel; that they've had plenty of opportunity to interact with people. If your puppy will have to be shipped to you, make certain that the breeder is getting the pup used to the crate ahead of time. If a pup is suddenly thrust into a crate and shipped, without ever having been in one before, imagine it's terror (and the time you'll have to spend "un-doing" that bad experience to get it crate trained when it arrives).

The other suggestions here are wonderful, too. Ask TONS of questions, and make sure the breeder is someone who will be willing to advise you a week, or 10 years from when you purchase the pup from them.


New member
Hi just a few things to add, can you meet the parents, the grandparents if not are they within your travelling distance. (yes I have met both the parents of both my boys and several different siblings,garndparents, and greatgrandparents, including 6 of a litter of 10, of now 10 years olds that are the siblings of Hawks greatgrandmother)). Can you see the health clearences for both the parents, if their are older siblings what are their health clearences like and, naturally, those of the grandparents. How often was the bitch breed and at what ages. How many pups each time, did the majority of the litter survive. BTW all this BEFORE you see the pups as your heart will melt and a 8 weeks old puppy is irrestiable.

Will they do a home check, if not why not?

Do thet have a contract, can you see it.

Most importantly is the breeder someone you can ring at 3 am if their is a problem with your pup. Can you ask really stupid questions and still get answers and maybe have a laugh.

I am very lucky to have a great relationship not only with our Breeder but also their breeder. But then again Ireland is a small country! Saying that there are 5 reputable breeders (breed to KC standards, and UK club rules) and at least twice that in nonreputable breeders.

Good luck with your search for the bestest furballs that you can add to your life.


New member
Sorry this is going to be long, but here it goes....

Part of being a good breeder is, understanding each puppy's personality and each new owners expectations/lifestyle. A good breeder needs to know just as much about you, as you want to know about them. You need to be prepared to share where your going to keep this puppy, who is going to be its primary caretaker and if its more than one person, what is that plan of communication. Who is your vet, and where are you going to go for training? If you don't currently have a vet, or trainer, you need to be interviewing to find one before you get your puppy. Do you have a stable home environment? Are your children well behaved? (Families who have ill behaved children have ill behaved pets and that is not a winning scenario for the lifetime commitment to a Newfoundland)

You also need to know what all the health clearances mean! Just asking if they have them and getting it confirmed is not enough. You need to understand why those particular tests were done and what makes them so important for the breed of your puppy. Some Newf breeders are testing eyes even though that is not a common problem with Newfs, but it would absolutely be a MUST for a Cocker Spaniel. Some breeders may have something in particular they test for in their lines where other breeders don't.

Do you know what your selected breed was originally bred to do, and does the breeder? Does the breeder do those activities, and/or do any of their puppy homes do those activities? Are their dogs capable of doing what they were bred to do? Some well-known Newfie lines can't swim well. IF you want to do a lot of water work or are a water enthusiast, then you probably should not get a pup from those lines. If you don't like the water then that may not bother you. How long has it been since the breeder showed in any event? If in the U.S., do they compete in AKC shows?

Someone SAYING a dog fits the Standard but they do not compete for a Championship or having two or three Championships (CH) in a pedigree three or four generations back means nothing. Someone SAYING a dog is trained for Water/Draft/Obedience/Agility is nothing unless it has achieved those titles. So listen carefully what is advertised and how it is written. Contracts offering a one or even two-year guarantee of crippling dysplasia, is just that! CRIPPLING Dysplasia, meaning the dog cannot walk and will usually need to be put down. IF your dog is Dysplastic in any other way, you are not guaranteed anything back according to the contract. IF you intended to show this dog and it limps from Dysplasia, according to the above contract, you get nothing because it is not crippled, it’s considered lame.

Read the pedigree and try to understand where the lineage comes from. Look for a common prefix name meaning those dogs were bred under the same person with some consistency. Many BYB, and Puppy mills have pedigrees with no consistency. You will find names like 'big John', or 'black Lilly', or every generation is a totally different name, meaning every generation a puppy was sold to someone who bred it, who sold it, who bred it and the cycle goes on with no thought to structure, temperament, or type. Just breeding registered dogs.

How many dogs does the breeder have of breeding age? I was on a BYB's website just yesterday and saw that she has 13 breedable female Newfoundlands listed. I know for a fact that this particular person does not breed for anything other than to produce Newfoundland Puppies, and ships all over the U.S. and advertises all over the Internet, Dog World, etc.... Her website looks good till you do the math.... realize she has never shown any of her dogs, they never go anywhere off the property just for fun, she does her own shots, the vet comes there when needed, the Newfs live in the kennel, and produce puppies.... the dogs are breeding stock, if they don't produce then they are sold/given away. Just talking to this person over the phone you would think she is a wonderful breeder and you are going to get a wonderful puppy from her because she LOVES her Newfies. Yes, she works hard, but is she just working to produce puppies for money.... Nothing else.

There are A LOT of Newf breeders, and there are more all the time so buyers must beware. Just because someone can talk the talk and does the health checks does not mean they have the best interest of the breed in mind. A good breeder has an image in their mind of what their perfect Newfoundland is, and it may be to your advantage to ask what that image is. A good breeder does not hesitate to compete or to show off their dogs, and to refer you to multiple people who either have puppies from them or from where their breeding stock comes from if their new breeders.

Many back yard breeders are organizing through the Internet and share dogs and information. So don't be surprised to find a whole network of individuals breeding Newfs in their barnyards and selling to anyone who has a fast buck.

On the Internet:
I watch for the pictures of breeding stock..... And by 'stock', I mean just that.... someone standing out in the yard/field holding a Newfoundland in kind of a show stack, although the dog is not in full show coat and looks unclean. Advertising about how big these dogs are and how big the puppies should be, is not a good top priority for breeding purposes either.

Look at the eyes.... a healthy Newfie should have bright eyes, and if you don't know what that is, then keep looking because your not seeing it in the dogs your looking at. Look at the background in photos provided on the Internet.... is it junky, or unkept, or is it just the side of the barn/kennel/truck, or are they cropped so you can't see ANYTHING. Breeders should be proud to display their Newfs in an appealing environment enjoying life. Their dogs should be clean, happy, and healthy looking, unless, of course, they just finished playing in the mud!

Okay, I'm done lecturing, this is a huge topic and it all comes down to human honesty and the way the genes combine when put together. Contracts are great but only as good as the people signing them, and Genes can only be controlled so far. You try and lessen your odds by selecting an honest, ethical breeder and then roll the dice hoping they have made the right choice for you to get the healthiest puppy possible.



Super Moderator
I applaud your post Susan. It is very well written and informative. Thanks for sharing your opinion, which I value greatly!!


Inactive Member
Well, now! THAT thread went quite smoothly! :D

Susan...I gotta say that was, IMO, a very well thought out and thought through post. Written with care and not anger.

Thank you!


New member
I'd like to add one more point, having gone through this whole exercise just last year. On top of all the questions already mentioned, we kind of snuck a tricky question into the middle.

We told them we wanted to get a pup in 12 months time (which wasn't really true but close). A couple of breeders' eyes glazed over then and said, "Well, call me next year when you are ready." As soon as the breeder saw we weren't going to be a quick sale NOW, they lost interest.

Our breeder simply thought a moment, and said who the parents would probably be and why she was breeding that pair and what she was hoping for from that litter.

ROM Newf

New member
Great post Susan!!
It's always buyer beware re: internet websites and even talking to breeders. There is one in our neck of the woods who has a very nice appealing website. She sounds fine on the phone (I actually talked to her one day not too long ago). Comes off as being knowledgeable to the un-educated person. Talks about her "co-breeder" and makes everything sound rosy. What she doesn't say is her "co-breeder" is a puppy mill in the midwest. I asked the name of the "co-breeder" which is the only way I knew where these pups originated- a name that a newbie to Newfs might not even recognize but known to many NCA members as NCA rescue "rescued" (ie purchased) Newfs from this particular midwest kennel.
If you don't know if a breeder is a reputable breeder, call any breeder on a club (either NCA or a regional club) breeders list and ask about the breeder you are considering getting a pup from. If you get good reports from this other breeder, then go for it. If the other breeder dances around the question, has nothing good to say or has never heard of your breeder, then you may want to find yourself a new breeder. I've found that good and reputable breeders will say positive things about other good and reputable breeders. There isn't really any competition to sell a puppy so they can be honest and upfront.


New member
Thanks everyone, your responses have been very helpful. Many of them I have thought about at one time or another during the past 2 years, but it'a hard to remember all of them. Thanks again.



New member
OK ... I learned a lot about human nature (more than dog nature, probably) during my long search for a breeder. A lot of it was not a positive experience. One thing that was was contact I had with someone very involved in the regional newf club. She was not a breeder but she had 3 newfs and knew a lot about newfs and searching for a breeder. She spent an hour on the phone with me one night (her long distance bill) answering every question I could possibly think of. She said she did it because when she was trying to get into newfs no one did the same for her and it almost caused her to look to another breed.

That said, I think a great thing to do would be to talk to one or more of the officers of a regional newf club ... just about newfs in general, their experiences, their opinions, etc. An added benefit is that many of them are clued into who has litters coming, etc. and they know of a lot of the area breeders.

If it weren't for this person we may very well have a lab right now ... we were at our wit's end with being "shut out" of the newf scene. We probably had multiple phone calls and e-mails to 10 different people go unreturned ... but the one that was returned was refreshing and reminded us why we got interested in the breed in the first place.


New member
Just thought I would bump this to the top, since its the holiday season and people are looking for puppies.